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Cognitive effects of head-movements in stray fields generated by a 7 Tesla whole-body MRI magnet.

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Manchester eScholar
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Abstract

The study investigates the impact of exposure to the stray magnetic field of a whole-body 7 T MRI scanner on neurobehavioral performance and cognition. Twenty seven volunteers completed four sessions, which exposed them to approximately 1600 mT (twice), 800 mT and negligible static field exposure. The order of exposure was assigned at random and was masked by placing volunteers in a tent to hide their position relative to the magnet bore. Volunteers completed a test battery assessing auditory working memory, eye-hand co-ordination, and visual perception. During three sessions the volunteers were instructed to complete a series of standardized head movements to generate additional time-varying fields ( approximately 300 and approximately 150 mT.s(-1) r.m.s.). In one session, volunteers were instructed to keep their heads as stable as possible. Performance on a visual tracking task was negatively influenced (P<.01) by 1.3% per 100 mT exposure. Furthermore, there was a trend for performance on two cognitive-motor tests to be decreased (P<.10). No effects were observed on working memory. Taken together with results of earlier studies, these results suggest that there are effects on visual perception and hand-eye co-ordination, but these are weak and variable between studies. The magnitude of these effects may depend on the magnitude of time-varying fields and not so much on the static field. While this study did not include exposure above 1.6 T, it suggests that use of strong magnetic fields is not a significant confounder in fMRI studies of cognitive function. Future work should further assess whether ultra-high field may impair performance of employees working in the vicinity of these magnets. (c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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